BACKGROUND TO THE NIGERIAN FOREIGN SERVICE
The Ministry of Foeign Affairs started as a small unit in the Office of the Prime Minister in September,1957 responsible for the conduct of Foreign Affairs and Commonwealth Relations. With initial personnel strength of twelve(12) officers, becoming the first generation of Foreign Service Officers in the country, the Ministry has undergone varying phases of structural changes.
At independence in 1960, the Division within the Office of the Prime Minister was renamed the Ministry of Foreign and Commonwealth Affairs. On attainment of a Republican Status in 1963, it was re-designated Ministry of External Affairs and in 1989, it became the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
While Nigerian's foreign policy objectives as enunciated at independence have remained fairly, consistent, successive administrations whether military and civilian, have shifted its emphasis and focus, to suit preveailing circumstances.This had ranged from Africa beign the centre-piece of Nigeria's foreign policy, to economic diplomacy, citizen diplomacy and now back to economic diplomacy with emphasis on the promotion of trade and foreign investments
as potent instruments for job and wealth creation within the context of the Transformation Agenda.
Today, the MInistry has undergone dramatic growth and expansion in terms' of the number of Missions and personnel from its rather humble beginnings in the 1960s. At the moment, the Ministry has a staff strength of 2,523 personnel comprising both senior and junior cadre officers, serving both at Headquarters and Missions abroad, excluding the staff of the NIIA, and the DTCA.
Mandate and Functions of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs
The Ministry of Foreign of Affairs is the statutory organ of Government charged with the primary responsibility for the formulation, articulation, conduct and execution of Nigeria's foreign policy. The mandate as approved in the 2007 Reforms is:
Dedicated to the vigorous pursuit of the vital national interest of the Federal Republic of Nigeria, and the promotion of African Integration and Unity, international cooperation for the consolidation of global peace, security, a just world economic order and democratic values, through the formulation, articulation and implementation of Nigeria's Foreign Policy objectives for the benefit of Nigeria and its citizens by building the capacity to be a major role player in World Affairs and earning the respect of the people of Africa and the larger international community.
Its functions are as follows:
- Conducting Nigeria's foreign policy and international relations;
- Esta blishing and administering of Nigeria's Diplmatic Missions abroad;
- Representing Nigeria in fign countries through the appintment of principal representatives by the President;
- Representing Nigeria at International Organizations, such as the United Natins and its specialized agencies, the African Union, the ECOWAS, the Commonwealth etc;
- Attending tnsular matters, including the protection of Nigerians and their interests abroad;
- Repatriating destitute Nigerians;
- Coordinating of arrangements for International Conferences in Nigeria;
- Issuing passports, Travel Certificates and Seaman Books;
- Oversight respnsibility of Pilgrim arrangements including welfare of Nigerian pilgrims abroad, incollabration with both the Muslim and Christian Pilgrims Commission;
- State Protocol and Ceremonies, Accreditation Foreign Dignitaries, Accreditation of Nigerian Envoys and Consular Representatives, Official visits abroad by Nigerian dignitaries;
- Processing of privileges for multilateral and international Organizations accredited to Nigeria;
- Relations with the' Diplomatic and Consular Missions in Nigeria;
- Conducting and managing Joint Commission and Bi - National Commissions with other countries;
- Promoting trade and investment between Nigeria and other countries, with emphasis on the expansion of the non-oil export sector and attraction and retention of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI), skills and technology;
- Administering overseas scholarship awards for Nigerian students;
- Mobilizing Nigeria's human resources in the Diaspora for national development,
- Providing leadership in Africa and contributing to the protection of the interests of the Black race in the world;
- Facilitating the acquisition and use of technology necessary for the rapid economic development of Nigeria.